Enterprise Search: NGIA Vendors Offer Alternative to the Search Box

February 4, 2015

I have been following the “blast from the past” articles that appear on certain content management oriented blogs and news services. I find the articles about federated search, governance, and knowledge related topics oddly out of step with the more forward looking developments in information access.

I am puzzled because the keyword search sector has been stuck in a rut for many years. The innovations touted in the consulting-jargon of some failed webmasters, terminated in house specialists, and frustrated academics are old, hoary with age, and deeply problematic.

There are some facts that cheerleaders for the solutions of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s choose to overlook:

  • Enterprise search typically means a subset of content required by an employee to perform work in today’s fluid and mobile work environment. The mix of employees and part timers translates to serious access control work. Enterprise search vendors “support” an organization’s security systems in the manner of a consulting physician to heart surgery. Inputs but no responsibility are the characteristics.
  • The costs of configuring, testing, and optimizing an old school system are usually higher than the vendor suggests. When the actual costs collide with the budget costs, the customer gets frisky. Fast Search & Transfer’s infamous revenue challenges came about in part because customers refused to pay when the system was not running and working as the marketers suggested it would.
  • Employees cannot locate needed information and don’t like the interfaces. The information is often “in” the system but not in the indexes. And if in the indexes, the users cannot figure out which combination of keywords unlocks what’s needed. The response is, “Who has time for this?” When a satisfaction measure is required somewhere between 55 and 75 percent of the search system’s users don’t like it very much.

Obviously organizations are looking for alternatives. These range from using open source solutions which are good enough. Other organizations put up with Windows’ search tools, which are also good enough. More important software systems like an enterprise resource planning or accounting system come with basis search functions. Again: These are good enough.

The focus of information access has shifted from indexing a limited corpus of content using a traditional solution to a more comprehensive, automated approach. No software is without its weaknesses. But compared to keyword search, there are vendors pointing customers toward a different approach.

Who are these vendors? In this short write up, I want to highlight the type of information about next generation information access vendors in my new monograph, CyberOSINT: Next Generation Information Access.

I want to highlight one vendor profiled in the monograph and mention three other vendors in the NGIA space which are not included in the first edition of the report but for whom I have reports available for a fee.

I want to direct your attention to Knowlesys, an NGIA vendor operating in Hong Kong and the Nanshan District, Shenzhen. On the surface, the company processes Web content. The firm also provides a free download of a scraping software, which is beginning to show its age.

Dig a bit deeper, and Knowlesys provides a range of custom services. These include deploying, maintaining, and operating next generation information access systems for clients. The company’s system can process and make available automatically content from internal, external, and third party providers. Access is available via standard desktop computers and mobile devices:


Source: Knowlesys, 2014.

The system handles both structured and unstructured content in English and a number of other languages.


The company does not reveal its clients and the firm routinely ignores communications sent via the online “contact us” mail form and faxed letters.

How sophisticated in the Knowlesys system? Compared to the other 20 systems analyzed for the CyberOSINT monograph, my assessment is that the company’s technology is on a part with that of other vendors offering NGIA systems. The plus of the Knowlesys system, if one can obtain a license, is that it will handle Chinese and other ideographic languages as well as the Romance languages. The downside is that for some applications, the company’s location in China may be a consideration.

And there are other companies with robust NGIA systems that are in the same league as US and UK anchored NGIA vendors. Let me identify three of these so you can get a sense of the disconnect that exists between the traditional search technology touted by the content management lobby and the new world of information access: 3i Mind (Israeli developed and operating from Switzerland), SeNet International (operating from the US but developed by Russian engineers and scientists), and Silobreaker (operating from the UK and Sweden).

The point is that each of these companies offering NGIA systems that include keyword and point and click search along with comprehensive subsystems that perform other, higher value operations for licensees. The details of what makes an NGIA system tick appear in a separate chapter of the CyberOSINT monograph.

If you a seeking a solution to information access problems, you will want to understand what the cyber OSINT vendors offer, how these systems deliver outputs that directly support decision making or feed outputs into other autonomous system, and move “beyond search.”

If you want to keep repeating the same mistakes as the licensees of Endeca, Fast Search, Verity, and other keyword vendors, imbibe the content management/governance view of information retrieval.

To deliver actionable results, look to the NGIA solutions. While not flawless, NGIA systems do more and deliver more in a high demand, large data flow setting.

Stephen E Arnold, February 4, 2015


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